On this day in music history: September 16, 1983 - “Let The Music Play” by Shannon is released. Written by Chris Barbosa and Ed Chisolm, is it the debut single and biggest for the R&B vocalist from Washington DC. Raised in Brooklyn, NY since childhood, by early 1983, twenty five year old Brenda Shannon Greene is a recent graduate of the American Academy Of Dramatic Arts in New York City, and is doing post graduate studies at York University. While still in college, Greene is a vocalist with the New York Jazz Ensemble. It is while she is with the group that Shannon meets producer Quentin Hicks. Impressed with her voice, Hicks sets up an audition for Shannon with Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa, staff songwriters and producers at independent dance label Emergency Records. Liking what they hear, the producers play her a demo of a song written by Barbosa and Ed Chisolm originally called “Fire And Ice”, which she agrees to record. Liggett and Barbosa take her into the studio the same to day to record her vocals on the track. The lyrics are re-written and the song is re-titled “Let The Music Play”. Recorded at Greene Street Studios in New York City in July of 1983, musician Rob Kilgore (Man Parrish, Xēna (aka Lisa Fischer)) plays all of the instruments on the track including synthesizers and programming the Roland TR-808 drum machine. The 808 is MIDI'ed(Musical Instrument Digital Interface) with a Roland TB-303, a rudimentary thirteen key bass synthesizer that gives the song its distinctive and immediately identifiable sound. Emergency releases “Let The Music Play” as a 12" single in mid-September of 1983. The record creates an immediate sensation on the street and on dance floors in New York, and in other major cities around the world. “Let The Music Play” is picked up for wider distribution by Atlantic and re-released on their Mirage Records imprint. That same Fall, Shannon goes back in the studio with Liggett and Barbosa to record a full length album to capitalize on the success of the single. “Let The Music Play” marks a major sea change in the evolution of dance and club oriented music. The records’ acceptance by US Top 40 pop radio, is the first time that dance music receives widespread exposure, since being virtually blackballed from mainstream pop radio after the end of the Disco Era. “Music” goes on to sell more than eight million copies worldwide, also introducing the genre of “Freestyle” into the vernacular of club culture, with its distinctive syncopated Latin and Hip Hop influenced rhythms dominating dance music for the rest of the 1980’s. “Let The Music Play” spends six weeks at number one on the Billboard Club Play chart on October 29, 1983, peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart, #8 on the Hot 100 in February of 1984, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: April 28, 1979 - “Heart Of Glass” by Blondie hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Deborah Harry and Chris Stein, it is the first chart topping single for the New York City based new wave/rock band fronted by lead singer Debbie Harry. Debbie and Chris originally write the song in late 1974 - early 1975 as “Once I Had A Love” with a reggae flavored arrangement. It continues to evolve as they retool the sound of the song, giving it a slow “four on the floor” disco beat, then re-titling it “The Disco Song”. Producer Mike Chapman along with the band give it a dramatic makeover employing the use of synthesizers (Moog Polymoog, Roland SH-1000, the latter being triggered off the CR-78) and the Roland CR-78 drum machine which gives the song its signature “ticking” pulse. Released as the second single from the bands third album “Parallel Lines” on January 3, 1979, “Heart Of Glass” creates an immediate sensation on the dance floor that quickly spreads to radio. Entering the Hot 100 at #84 on February 17, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. The huge success of “Heart Of Glass” is a double edged sword for Blondie as they are accused of “selling out” by their fellow musicians on the New York punk and new wave scene for having made “a disco song”. “Heart Of Glass” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA, and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2016.